Don't ask me... I'm just as confused about the whole purgatory thing as you are.
We finally get confirmation on why Sammy is how he is on Supernatural -- and find out the power that brought him out of the cage. It was not what we expected. But at least now Dean has justification for feeling all creeped-out at the Campbell Compound, so ….yay for that? Look, we work with what we've got.
Sammy's soul problem
Sam recovers from last ep's beat-down to find Dean and Castiel hovering over him -- but not like mother hens. No, it's more like hungry vultures, or prison guards, or a couple of guys who are very, very freaked out.
While quizzing Sam about his symptoms -- feverish? speaking in tongues? -- Cas discovers Sam doesn't sleep. Ever. He hasn't since he got back. So Cas does a little exploratory surgery, somehow shoving his hand into Sam's gut and rooting around for a bit. His conclusion: Sam has no soul. It's gone -- probably still back in the cage with Michael and Lucifer. "So is he still even Sam?" Dean asks. "You pose an interesting philosophical question," Castiel replies.
That is an interesting philosophical question, one that I propose we explore for the rest of this …. What? You'd rather stick to what happened in the episode than deal with metaphysics? Ok, but we warn you…things get really frustrating.
Sam still has no idea how he got back, but he does have one clue -- Gramps Campbell came back at the same time. So the boys and Cas pay a visit and Gramps gets an "angel cavity search." He's got a soul, and he claims to know nothing, so we're just as confused as we were before.
Dean doesn't trust Gramps, but he's fine with pretending to so he can find out what's going on. He agrees to go on the hunt for the Alpha vamp, and even agrees to stay behind and round up stragglers along with Gwen (Gwen is not happy about this assignment). But he breaks ranks when the shooting starts, and he makes it to the house in time to see Gramps and his minions -- including Sam -- bundle the Alpha vamp into the back of a van. But when Dean asks Sam if anything weird happened, Sam says no. Um, Sammy, you don't think taking these creatures alive is a bit odd?
Dean wants to find out what's really going on, and Sam can either help him or go back to Gramps. Did anyone think Sam had chosen Gramps when he returned to the Compound? We didn't either. Of course he's spying for Dean, and of course he manages to figure out a way to track the Campbells to where they're holding the Alpha.
And oh, how we love the Alpha vamp. The Campbells have him rigged up with a drip of dead man's blood, plus strapped to a chair and with nails through his hands and feet, attached to electrical wires. But the Alpha is totally blase, even bored, by their interrogation efforts. When the Campbells leave, he tells the boys to come on in for a chat.
After some delightful verbal sparring, the Alpha tells the boys what Gramps is looking for -- directions to purgatory. See, the souls of bad people go to hell, the souls of good people go to heaven, and the souls of freakish killing machines and monsters head off to purgatory for all eternity. And this brings us up short, because…well, we'll wait for the commentary section below. But we have issues.
But those aren't the questions the show wants us to ask. It wants us to ask why Gramps would be seeking directions to purgatory, and the boys helpfully do that. He's just following orders, says Alpha, but before the boys can ask whose orders, Gramps himself returns. Uh-oh, the boys are in trouble!
And they are, just not for the reason they think. Because the Alpha chooses this moment to break his bonds and start breaking heads -- well, ok, ripping out throats, but you get the idea. he manages to get Sam alone, and proposes to turn him into a lovely little soulless killing machine, but Christian shoots him full of dead man's blood before he can get bitey. And Christian's eyes are completely black.
The man behind the curtain
That's because the Gramps is taking orders from… Crowley! Wait, Crowley? Seriously? That's… OK, holding it for the commentary section. ANYway, Crowley reveals that he's the one who pulled Sam out of the cage, and he brought Gramps back specifically to capture Alphas so he can find purgatory, in which he wants to build condos, or something.
What's more, Crowley says he can reunite Sam and his soul. If they're good little minions, Sam gets to stay topside, and Crowley will retrieve his soul. If they defy Crowley, Sam joins his soul back in hell. At this point, our head hurts from the "wait, what?" objections, so we'll skip to the end: Blah blah Gramps is family and they can be loyal, blah blah Sam wants to kill him, blah blah work with Crowley until the opportunity arises to finish him. The end.
Where to start…
All right, first: Really? Monsters have souls? But, if a person is turned into a vampire or a werewolf, does his soul stay human or morph into monster-soul? How the heck does that work?
And why wouldn't monster-souls go to monster-hell, or even monster-heaven, where they can frolic through fields of raw meat or the still-beating hearts of their victims or something? Why purgatory?
And anyway, purgatory is supposed to be a place of temporary punishment where souls get purified. If alleged monster-souls went anywhere, wouldn't it be to limbo? We're not terribly hung up on the theology of it, but come on -- there's a place ready-made for monster-souls. It's like they thought purgatory sounded more dramatic than limbo. Look up the definitions of the words you use!
Moving on… ok, Crowley is the king of Hell, fine. He's more powerful than he was as a crossroads demon. Whatever. But if the king of Hell can just yank souls out of the Lucifer cage, why didn't a powerful demon -- say, Azazel -- just pull Lucifer out? Either the angels built a cage that keeps everything in, or they didn't. Don't change the story now…
We bet the boys are feeling stupid for letting Crowley take his bones back, right? But if Crowley is powerful enough to pull a soul out of the Lucifer cage, surely he's too powerful for the bone-burning trick to work on him. And anyway, why would Gramps care if Sam's got his soul? How would that work as a bargaining chip? Argh!
This may seem nitpicky, but it's not -- these are fundamental questions. The show has usually been pretty good about adhering to its internal logic. (Yes, there are exceptions, but that's why we said pretty good.) Now that logic seems to have flown out the window. What gives?
OK. Deep, cleansing breath.
Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends
Despite our frustrations, the episode had its share of great quotes and cool moments.
- We loved Gramps sizing up Castiel: "You're scrawnier than I pictured." "This is a vessel," Cas replies. "My true form is approximately the size of your Chrysler building." Plus, the fangirls like it, so back off, Gramps!
- Hey, Cas is getting his sense of humor back! Granted, it's slightly bitter: When Dean objects to Cas leaving to take care of some celestial civil war business, Cas replies "Of course. Your problems always come first. I'll be in touch." Did Dean learn nothing from Bobby's dressing-down?
- We admit it, we loved the Alpha vamp. How great was it when Gramps turned on the juice and the Alpha looked straight at him and drawled "Ouch. Stop. That hurts." If his hands were free, he totally would have been filing his nails.
- The Alpha dropped a hint about an even bigger big bad guy out there: "We all have our mothers…" What does that mean?
- "When your kind first huddled around the fire, I was the thing in the dark." We totally buy that.
- Before, every monster and demon out there was interested in Sam because he was the boy with demon blood. Now, apparently every demon and monster will be interested in him because he's the boy with no soul. Mix it up a bit, show!
- We love Crowley, we really do, but we don't buy that he pulled off grabbing Sam out of the cage. Now, is he lying? If so, is it to protect something else, or just to make himself look awesome?
- Still, we can't help but grin at "Me Charlie, you angels." Sam's already got the feathered hair, he just needs the red bathing suit and he can be Farrah Fawcett!
- After the Crowley reveal, Gramps says the boys can either get out of his way or shoot him. Sam pulls his gun. We kind of wish Dean had let him pull the trigger.
So what's your take on the episode? Love it? Hate it? Hate us for not loving it? Talk about it in the comments!